Count Alexis Gregorievich Orlov (1737-1808) was one of Russia's most successful cammanders. A chief conspiritor in the palace revolution of 1762, it was he who conveyed the unpopular Germanophile Peter III to the Chteau of Rospa and murderd him there, after a drunken brawl, with his own hands. He was held in high regard by Peter's widow, Catherine II, and in 1770 was appointed commander-in-chief of the fleet sent against the Turks. It was Russia's first appearance in the Mediterranean, and though heavily outnumbered, they succeeded in surprising the enemy in some dissaray with half of their fleet anchored in a small bay. The Turkish fleet was completely destroyed, the Greek archipelago lay open to Russia, and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire appeared a distinct possibility. From now on the 'Eastern Question' was to be a central issue in European affairs.
Orlov retired after this success. He was granted the honorific epithet Chesmensky and the privilege of quartering the imperial arms in his shield. He took up horse breeding, producing the finest race horses of the day. In the 1806-7 war against Napoleon he commanded the fifth militia district, financed almost entirely at his own expense.
The legend in the exergue on the reverse states that this medal was struck as a mark of gratitude by order of the College of the Admiralty.